The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
|The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm|
Souvenir program cover
George Pal (fairy tale sequences)
|Produced by||George Pal|
David P. Harmon
|Story by||David P. Harmon|
Bob Merrill (songs)
|Edited by||Walter A. Thompson|
George Pal Productions
Cinerama Releasing Corporation
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm is a 1962 American film directed by Henry Levin and George Pal. The latter was the producer and also in charge of the stop motion animation. The film was one of the highest-grossing films of 1962. It won one Oscar and was nominated for three additional Academy Awards. Several prominent actors — including Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Böhm, Jim Backus, Barbara Eden, and Buddy Hackett — are in the film.
It was filmed in the Cinerama process, which was photographed in an arc with three lenses, on a camera that produced three strips of film. Three projectors, in the back and sides of the theatre, produced a panoramic image on a screen that curved 146 degrees around the front of the audience.
The story focuses on the Grimm brothers, Wilhelm (Laurence Harvey) and Jacob (Karlheinz Böhm), and is biographical and fantastical at the same time. They are working to finish a history for a local Duke (Oscar Homolka), though Wilhelm is more interested in collecting fairy tales and often spends their money to hear them from locals. Tales such as "The Dancing Princess" and "The Cobbler and the Elves" are integrated into the main plot. One of the tales is told as an experiment to three children in a book store to see if publishing a collection of fairy tales has any merit. Another tale, "The Singing Bone", is told by an old woman (Martita Hunt) in the forest who tells stories to children, while the uninvited Wilhelm secretly listens through an open window. The culmination of this tale involves a jeweled dragon and features the most involved usage of the film's special effects.
Wilhelm loses the manuscript of the Duke's family history while writing down this third story - he is supposed to be collecting additional information for the family history - and the brothers cannot meet their deadline. They are required to pay their rent, which was waived while they worked. As a result of wading through a stream in an effort to retrieve the manuscript (which fell into the water after his briefcase broke open), Wilhelm becomes critically ill with potentially fatal pneumonia. He dreams that at night various fairytale characters come to him, begging him to name them before he dies. In the dream, Russ Tamblyn reprises his role as Tom Thumb from the 1958 film. Wilhelm's fever breaks, and he recovers completely, continuing his own work while his brother publishes regular books, including a history of German grammar and a book on law. Jacob, shaken by his brother's experience, begins to collaborate on the fairy tales with Wilhelm.
They are ultimately invited to receive honorary membership at the Berlin Royal Academy, which makes no mention of the tales in their invitation. Jacob prepares to make a speech deliberately insulting the Academy for snubbing Wilhelm. As their train pulls into the station, hordes of children arrive, chanting, "We want a story". Wilhelm begins, "Once upon a time, there were two brothers". The children cheer, and the film ends with a caption card that reads "…and they lived happily ever after".
- Laurence Harvey - Wilhelm Grimm / The Cobbler ("The Cobbler and the Elves")
- Karlheinz Böhm - Jacob Grimm (as Karl Boehm)
- Claire Bloom - Dorothea Grimm
- Walter Slezak - Stossel
- Barbara Eden - Greta Heinrich
- Oskar Homolka - The Duke (as Oscar Homolka)
- Martita Hunt - Anna Richter (Story Teller)
- Betty Garde - Miss Bettenhausen
- Bryan Russell - Friedrich Grimm
- Ian Wolfe - Gruber
- Walter Rilla - Priest
- Yvette Mimieux - The Princess ("The Dancing Princess")
- Russ Tamblyn - The Woodsman ("The Dancing Princess")/ Tom Thumb (in Wilhelm's Dream)
- Jim Backus - The King ("The Dancing Princess")
- Beulah Bondi - The Gypsy ("The Dancing Princess")
- Terry-Thomas - Sir Ludwig ("The Singing Bone")
- Buddy Hackett - Hans ("The Singing Bone")
- Otto Kruger - The King at Ludwig's Trial ("The Singing Bone")
- Arnold Stang - Rumplestiltskin (in Wilhelm's dream)
- Hal Smith, Mel Blanc, Pinto Colvig, and Dal McKennon Voicing The Puppetoons - The Elves ("The Cobbler and the Elves")
- Peter Whitney - The Giant (uncredited)
- Tammy Marihugh - Pauline Grimm
- Cheerio Meredith - Mrs. Von Dittersdorf
In the mid 1950s George Pal left Paramount, where he had worked for a number of years. In 1956 he announced the formation of his own company, Galaxy Pictures, saying he would make six films, including an adaptation of The Time Machine written by David Duncan; Captain Cook, based on the novel Lost Eden; a film about Atlantis; and The Brothers Grimm based on a script by David Harmon based on a biography of the brothers by Dr Hermann Gerstner. Pal ended up signing an agreement with MGM to finance Galaxy's slate, the first film produced being tom thumb.
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was produced and exhibited in the original 3-panel Cinerama widescreen process. It was the first Cinerama feature that attempted to tell a cohesive story, unlike previous productions, which had all been travelogues. It was followed a few months later by a second such film, How the West Was Won, after which single-lens Cinerama was used for narrative films.
George Pal said three fairy tales were chosen which would look good in Cinerama. He also wanted to use lesser known fairy tales so the audience did not know how they ended: The Dancing Princess, The Cobbler and the Elves and The Singing Bone.
Filming took place on location in Bavaria.
Box office performance
By September 1962 the film had been seen by a million people, 60% of them adults.
- Best Costume Design, Color - Mary Wills
- Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color - George Davis, Edward Carfagno, Henry Grace, Dick Pefferle (Lost to John Box, John Stoll, and Dario Simoni for Lawrence of Arabia)
- Best Cinematography, Color - Paul C. Vogel (Lost to Freddie Young for Lawrence of Arabia)
- Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment - Leigh Harline (Lost to Ray Heindorf for The Music Man)
Preservation status and home video
Original high quality elements for the film are damaged and incomplete, and scattered among various international archives. As of August 2018, it is the only film originally shot in Cinerama to remain unrestored. The cost of a full digital scan and restoration of the best surviving elements has been estimated by film preservationist Robert A. Harris at between $1-2 million.
MGM/UA Home Video released the film on VHS and LaserDisc in the US in 1989 and 1992 respectively, and on LaserDisc in Japan in 1997. Since then, other than a bootleg Italian DVD from a low quality source, there have been no further releases on home video.
Comic book adaption
- Sheldon Hall, Epics, Spectacles, and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History Wayne State University Press, 2010 p 164
- Box Office Information for The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. The Numbers. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- GEORGE PAL FORMS OWN MOVIE GROUP: Former Paramount Producer Will Make 'Time Machine' as First of Six Films By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]16 Mar 1956: 19.
- Simon Bolivar Epic Shaping: Young, Bracken May Be Grimm; David Niven as Leslie Howard? Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]20 Nov 1957: B11.
- WHEELS TURN IN HOLLYWOOD: Columbia, Mirisch Brothers and George Pal Prepare To Launch Impressive Movie Production Schedules By THOMAS M. PRYOR HOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]04 May 1958: X7.
- Entertainment: 'Brothers Grimm' Will Star Tamblyn Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]06 Aug 1959: B8.
- New Unit Plans Comedy -- Pal Chart -- Addenda By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]21 Aug 1960: X7.
- "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". Turner Classic Movies.
- Broader Uses for the Broadest Screen: Hollywood Letter By John C. Waugh. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file); Boston, Mass. [Boston, Mass]09 May 1961: 4.
- GRIMM ELVES ESCAPE FIRE; CREATORS TO 'LIVE' IN FILM Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]26 Nov 1961: A3.
- George Pal to Use Bavarian Palaces: They'll Be Sets for 'Grimm'; Peppard Will Tour the East Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]11 Sep 1961: C10.
- ADULTS OUTNUMBER KIDS SEEING 'GRIMM' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]22 Sep 1962: C7.
- "Top Rental Films of 1963". Variety, 8 January 1964, pg 37.
- "NY Times: The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Cinerama film preservationist David Strohmaier HomeTheaterForum.com post, August 1, 2018
- Robert A. Harris HomeTheaterForum.com post, July 30, 2018
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm VHSCollector.com US VHS listing
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm LDDb.com US LD listing
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm LDDb.com Japanese LD listing
- "Gold Key: The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". Grand Comics Database.
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm on IMDb
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm at the TCM Movie Database
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm at AllMovie
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm at Rotten Tomatoes
- Interview with Cinerama expert John Mitchell
- [The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm Cinerama trailer] "SmileBox" version, simulating the curved-screen effect